Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly

The Kindred of Darkness: A James Asher Vampire Novel by Barbara Hambly --- 248 pages

This is just the fifth book in Hambly's vampire series; she started about twenty years ago with Those Who Hunt the Night. After the first two books there was a long hiatus before she picked up the series again.

For those who like their vampires in the classic tradition (as opposed to those contemporary teen angst vamps) Hambly writes the kind of horror that sends shivers down your spine and keeps you awake in the dark.

Oxford don James Asher is a philologist and folklorist with an extensive knowledge (painfully acquired) of the legend and lore of the Undead. His wife Lydia forsook her gilded cage as the daughter of a wealthy Victorian family to study medicine. The two of them have narrowly survived dangerous encounters with vampires in London, Europe, Russia and China, but after the birth of their daughter Miranda, they promised each other such adventures were behind them.

Until the night the Master Vampire of London kidnaps Miranda and her nursemaid to force Lydia and James into helping him discover the lair of a renegade vampire who is challenging the Master for control of the London Nest.

With the lives of their daughter and the innocent maid at stake, Lydia searches frantically for evidence that will reveal the intruder vampire's hiding places. At the same time she must act her part in her young cousin's formal debut into London high society, so that no one suspects she and James are trying to discover what lies behind this rivalry for control of the London vampires --- and locate where Miranda and the maid are being held captive.

James learns that an ancient book, The Kindred of the Dead, said to describe methods for destroying vampires, is at the heart of the struggle between the Master and his rival. Meanwhile Lydia, in desperation, has summoned the assistance of Don Simon Ysidro, the vampire who first drew the Ashers into the fell world of the Undead --- where nothing and no one is who or what it appears to be and above all, where no human in his right mind should trust the word of a vampire.

Hambly writes a great story, and the James Asher novels (as well as all her other novels, encompassing historical fiction, mysteries and fantasy) are highly recommended.

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